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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: on Tour in Arkansas

October 26th, 2016

In its trek across the country, Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor made its way to Arkansas over the summer to engage youth and build the brain through fun, interactive ways.  Here’s what the staff from Life Skills for Youth had to say:

Our youth liked the 20-second Challenges, Show Me Your Moves and Make a Melody games the best.  Some of the favorite activities were  the music challenges and showing off their moves – making up skits.  They liked making a song to the star spangled banner.  I would say what they most liked about the activities overall was the chance they had to express themselves in front of classmates.  The activities were amusing for their peers. 

The only critique was that some students thought some of the music items could have been a bit more relatable for their age group (over 15).

What I enjoyed most, as a facilitator, was  was the engagement and humor for those who participated.  I would recommend these activities to other programs.  The activities created involvement between students and teacher.  It allowed children to work together and support their classmates.

- Gary Casey, Life Skills for Youth


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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: A Teacher’s Review

October 19th, 2016

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar is definitely a very worthwhile, unique find.   I have used it in my classroom in many different ways since it serves multiple purposes.  My students, primarily 5th graders, have absolutely loved the crazy challenges found on the cards.


This game comes with 101 small cards in a plastic jar and a die.  There are four categories: Make a Melody, Show Me Your Moves, 20-Second Challenge, and Wild Cards.  The 20- second challenges are my favorite.  These cards are great for when students need a quick break from long stretches of learning, yet I do not want to lose valuable instructional time.  Many of these cards include debates, like arguing whether texting or face-to-face conversation is more important.  Others include telling a story about a time the teller was brave, or acting out a scene from a movie.  With these cards, I usually give one to each of my six groups, and each person in the group gets to go around and do it.  Because each student only has 20 seconds, the groups get done at the same time, making it easy to resume the lesson.


The Make a Melody cards were my students’ favorite.  They elicited hilarious responses, such as singing a song using a cat or a dog voice (woof-woof or meow-meow), and seeing if the group could tell what it was.  The only problem with these is that when multiple groups are doing this category at once, the room gets pretty noisy! I ended up using these with the whole group, and would have one representative from each group perform them, and then they would rotate. This solution worked well.


Most of the Show Me Your Move cards require movement in the classroom, so they are great when I had to have indoor activity time.  Some of them include making up dance moves, completing stretches, and doing short relay races.


Wild Cards can be any mixture of the following, but most of them include writing and discussing.  My favorite ones are those that have students share information about themselves with each other, like their favorite hobbies.  The card also tells them to roll the die to determine how many things they share about that hobby with the group.  These really help students get along better in my classroom as they make stronger connections with each other.


I highly recommend choosing the cards that students receive. The one factor that I am always concerned about is time. It was very important for me to pre-select the cards, as some of them can be more time-consuming than others.  I also factor in noise level of the cards occasionally, depending on how I use the cards that day.  Selecting them matters as well because some of them need materials, like tape, balls, and various other objects.


Students do always have the choice to pass if they feel too uncomfortable doing the activities.  On the first day we tried the cards, I had a handful of students who did not want to participate.  However, once they realized how much fun the other students were having who did participate, everyone engaged with them from then on.


Ways that I utilize them in my classroom:

  •  Short brain breaks for students during long periods of work time (like essay writing)
  • Icebreakers/getting to know you activities when students are placed in new groups
  • During indoor activity time
  • As tie-breakers following review games (especially the 20-second challenges)
  • At the beginning of the year as students simply get used to group rotations
  • As bellwork when the card coincides with the lesson (debate cards, for example)


There are many other ways that the cards can be used, I am sure! I am very pleased with them, and I definitely plan on using them in my classroom again this year.  Overall, this is a great product, and it certainly deserves two-thumbs up!

- Bethany Riggs Weeks, Fifth Grade Language Arts & Volleyball Coach

Sycamore Middle School



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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: On Tour with 4-H

October 12th, 2016

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor has been making its debute”tour” since its inception in April.  This summer found it making a pro-longed stop to engage youth with the 4-H program.  Here’s what one “fan” had to say about the experience:

“Brain Boosters for groups in a jar is PERFECT for my needs! In my role with the 4-H program, I work with teens who are in leadership roles. Working with teens can already be challenging so this resource is ideal! This jar is chock full of quick, meaningful and engaging activities! Yet another outstanding product from Ann and Susan!”

– Justin Crowe, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development, University of Tennessee Extension

Review originally posted on his FB page:

4-H is one of Brain Boosters for Groups biggest fans.  Thank you, 4-H!



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Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar®: The Tour Begins

October 5th, 2016

Brain Boosters for Groups in a Jar by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor has been making its debute”tour” engaging with youth across the country.  Here’s what one teacher had to say about Brain Boosters after using them in her school at end of the 2016 school year:

Brain Boosters has been a lifesaver for me this semester. My school leadership council has been having a hard time connecting with one another as well as being motivated to participate in the group. I use Brain Boosters For Groups in a Jar with them everyday now and they LOVE it! I use it at the start of our meetings to get their thinking and enthusiasm going and sometimes at the end as a fun way to close our meetings. I have also recommended it to other teachers at my school because it is so quick and easy to grab and go! We have an advisory period each week and Brain Boosters has been an awesome way to connect and have fun with our advisory groups. I love that there are over 100 activities, it is fast and easy, and most of all TONS of fun! It is so much better than having to look up different games and icebreakers online and sifting through all of them to find what I want. ALL of the activities included in the jar are age-appropriate, easy to understand, and take just a few minutes to do. They are all different, unique, and don’t take any planning. I have even used these activities at Professional Development with my co-workers. I highly recommend Brain Boosters to any one working with groups both teens and adults!”

- Ashley Parker, Cameron, A Lead Public School

See what Ashley’s class did to help promote the jar:


Jar_3d  Get the jar directly from Free Spirit or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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